- "He was tall and straight; his hair was of shining gold, his face fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and clean, and his voice like music; on his brow set wisdom, and in his hand was strength."
- —The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Many Meetings
Glorfindel was one of the mighty of the Firstborn (the Elves), and was once the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower in Gondolin. After his death, he was re-embodied by the Valar to act as an emissary.
Years of the Trees
Glorfindel was born in Tirion sometime during the Noontide of Valinor, and was descended from a house of princes. He followed the House of Fingolfin during the Flight of the Ñoldor, but he took no part in the Kinslaying at Alqualondë.
After the exile, Glorfindel followed Turgon to Gondolin. He was appointed as the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower and one of the captains of the King. He was popular and well-loved by the Gondolindrim.
When Aredhel wished to depart Gondolin in search for the Sons of Fëanor, Turgon appointed Glorfindel, Ecthelion, and Egalmoth to be her escorts. They were denied entrance to Doriath, and instead turned north where the escort lost Aredhel near Nan Dungortheb. They later returned to Gondolin without her.
Fall of Gondolin
In FA 510, the forces of Melkor attacked Gondolin, with the help of Maeglin's treachery. Glorfindel and the last of his followers held the Great Market from the Orcs, in pursuance of ambushing the enemies. However, they themselves were ambushed and fought until a fire-drake arrived. Glorfindel and his people cut their way out, but were pursed by the orcs. The House of the Harp arrived to help them, after disobeying their deceitful lord, Salgant. The House of the Golden Flower regrouped at the Square of the King and was one of the last Houses to fight.
Glorfindel joined Tuor in defending the Square, until Egalmoth arrived and Ecthelion was slain during his fight with Gothmog. When King Turgon was also slain, the Gondolindrim escaped through Idril's Secret Way, with Glorfindel holding the rear manfully and lost more of his followers there.
As they made their escape through Cirith Thoronath, one of the Balrogs came upon the refugees. Glorfindel leapt forward to face the Balrog, while his followers watched from afar. He fended himself from the Balrog's whip and claws, and successfully hewed its iron helm. At the last moment, he pierced the Balrog's belly and it fell backwards towards the cliff, but it grabbed Glorfindel by his hair and both of them fell into the deep abyss. His body was later borne up by Thorondor, Lord of Eagles, who flew down into the Abyss to rescue Glorfindel's broken body, returning it to his people who buried him high on the cliffs of the Mountains which surrounded Gondolin. It was said that yellow flowers (possibly celandine) grew on his mound, despite its rocky location.
Return to Middle-earth
Glorfindel's spirit departed to the Halls of Mandos, where he spent years with the spirits of the others who died. Due to his noble actions, valor and bravery that saved many Elves during the Fall of Gondolin, he was re-embodied after a short time.
Battle of Fornost
Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.
—Glorfindel's prophecy about the Witch-king
During the Battle of Fornost, Glorfindel was the major reason the evil Witch-King of Angmar was defeated. After the battle was over, and the Witch-King had fled, it was Glorfindel who predicted that no mortal man would ever destroy the Witch-king. This prediction would come true a thousand years later at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, when Éowyn of Rohan (a woman) and Meriadoc Brandybuck (a Hobbit) destroyed the Witch-King.
War of the Ring
Suddenly into view below came a white horse, gleaming in the shadows, running swiftly. In the dusk its headstall flickered and flashed, as if it were studded with gems like living stars. The rider's cloak streamed behind him, and his hood was thrown back; his golden hair flowed shimmering in the wind of his speed.... it appeared that white light was shining through the form and raiment of the rider, as if though through a thin veil.
—The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Flight to the Ford
A thousand years later, Glorfindel was sent by Lord Elrond to search for Frodo and his companions. He pursued some of the Nazgûl and drew them away from the Ford of Bruinen. He then found and led the company for days stopping only briefly to let the Hobbits rest. When the Nazgul approached again, Glorfindel put Frodo on his white horse Asfaloth, and bade the horse take Frodo to Rivendell. Asfaloth out ran the black horses of the Nazgûl and managed to cross the Ford of Bruinen which lead to Rivendell. A severely weakened Frodo, conscious but delirious due to the wound he was carrying from the Morgul Blade, turned back to defy the Riders who pleaded for him to come with them. The Nazgul entered the shallow ford but were there un-horsed and swept away by a torrent of enchanted water which guarded the entrance to Imladris charged with the power of the Half-elven and indeed by Gandalf the Grey. He later led the injured Frodo and the rest of the company safely to Rivendell.
At the Council of Elrond, Glorfindel sat in a position of honour alongside Elrond and Gandalf. He suggested that the One Ring should be either sent to Tom Bombadil and cast into the depths of the Sea, but Gandalf believed that the One may resurface on land after a hundred or thousand years. He was briefly considered to be a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, but was later ruled out: his power would be of no use in a mission of secrecy to Mordor.
After the War
After the Ring's destruction, Glorfindel, along with Erestor and the sons of Elrond, witnessed the wedding of Aragorn and Arwen. His ultimate fate is not known, but it is reasonable to assume that he eventually sailed to Valinor with the rest of his kin.
Glorfindel was known for his golden hair, which at some point, was described to be yellow. He was an elf of great bodily and spiritual structure, wisdom, and bravery. The Gondolindrim loved him dearly and wept upon witnessing his passing at Cirith Thoronath. He was a capable leader, as seen when he led his House during the Fall, and loyal to his King and brothers-in-arms. He was very courageous and mindful of the refugees as they escaped. He chose to protect all the escaping Gondolindrim (especially Tuor and Idril), though he "would have defended them even had they been fugitives of any rank". He displayed more of his power and courage when he faced against the Nine Riders to save Frodo, and when he participated in the Council of Elrond.
After his re-embodiment, Manwë had given Glorfindel powers nearly equal to the Maiar's, to help him in his missions in Middle-earth. He was considered one of the most powerful elves from Rivendell, given by his powerful and almost "angelic" presence, which had made the Black Riders flee many times. He also had medicinal knowledge, as seen when he tends to Frodo's wounds.
His original name is said to have been Laurefindil, which is the Quenya for "Golden-haired", from laurë ("golden") and findilë ("head of hair"). Glorfindel is simply the Sindarin translation of Laurefindil, from glaur ("golden") and fîn or find ("lock of hair").
Glorfindel was said to be descended from a house of princes and one of the noble elves in Gondolin. Due to his golden hair, he might be descended from a Ñoldorin-Vanyarin intermarriage, like Finrod and Galadriel. His loyalty and following Turgon also indicated that he could be one of Turgon's kin, despite Turgon and the House of Fingolfin having dark hair. In The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, it is suggested that Glorfindel is a member of the House of Finarfin.
In Tolkien's early drafts, there were two Glorfindels: a Glorfindel of Gondolin and a Glorfindel of Rivendell. These two were initially thought to be different individuals. While writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien borrowed a name from one of the earlier elves. As the legendarium grew more diverse, however, Tolkien decided that an elf who had fought in many wars might be a good companion for Gandalf. He explained in The Last Writings that the Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Rivendell are one and the same:
He then became again a living incarnate person, but was permitted to dwell in the Blessed Realm; for he had regained the primitive innocence and grace of the Eldar. For long years he remained in Valinor, in reunion with the Eldar who had not rebelled, and in the companionship of the Maiar. To these he had now become almost an equal, for though he was an incarnate (to whom a bodily form not made or chosen by himself was necessary) his spiritual power had been greatly enhanced by his self-sacrifice.
—The History of Middle-earth, The Last Writings, Glorfindel
Other versions of the legendarium
Upon deciding Glorfindel's return to Middle-earth, Tolkien came up with three options: SA 1200 (during Annatar's appearance in Númenor), SA 1600 (the completion of Barad-dûr), or TA 1000 (with the five Istari). Although all were probable, Tolkien favoured the SA 1600 as Glorfindel's return.
During the first draft of The Council of Elrond, Glorfindel was among of what was to become the Fellowship of the Ring, along with Durin son of Balin (who later became Gimli son of Gloin) and Trotter (later named Strider or Aragorn).
Appearances in the Books and Films
In the books
- The History of Middle-earth
- The Silmarillion
- The Children of Hurin
- The Fall of Gondolin
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Return of the King
In the films
Portrayal in adaptations
Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Glorfindel's role in guiding Frodo Baggins to Rivendell is filled by Arwen, though he does appear during the prologue when Sauron is defeated. In The Return of the King, Glorfindel is seen walking next to Arwen as she is having her vision of her son Eldarion during the journey to The Grey Havens. In his last appearance, he is seen at the crowning of King Elessar, behind Legolas and in front of Arwen. In all appearances in the movies he has no speaking lines.
|Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles.|
- In the 1978 film of The Lord of the Rings, Glorfindel's part was taken by Legolas when leading the Hobbits and Strider to Rivendell.
- At one stage Tolkien considered whether Glorfindel was one of the Blue Wizards, but he later decided against this.
- In July 2007, 3-D entertainment model producer Gentle Giant Studios, Inc., headquartered in Burbank, California, released an exclusive sculpted Glorfindel bust, limited to 500 pieces, for the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Licensed under New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings franchise. GLORFINDEL BUST - Gentle Giant Studios
Translations around the World
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||葛羅芬戴爾|
|Kazakh Cyrillic||Глорфиндел (Cyrillic) Glorfïndel (Latin)|
|Serbian||Глорфиндел (Cyrillic) Glorfindel (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Глорфиндел (Cyrillic) Glorfindel (Latin)|